New Rosa Parks Musical in Development in London
There have been many iconic names associated with the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s in the United States. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. are perhaps the most celebrated, but there is one story and specifically one woman who defied opression and consequently became a catalyst and a main contributer to the snowball effect of the whole movement. United Theatrical is now developing a brand new musical in London based on the life of this celebrated lady under the working title of Rosa. We are of course referring to the now legendary activist Rosa Parks.
Producers describe the new musical as "the compelling true life story of Rosa Parks and her journey from 'quiet seamstress' to the mother of the civil rights movement. By refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger in 1950’s Alabama, Parks took her place in history as an international symbol of hope that has inspired future generations to continue the fight for equality."
Rosa features music and lyrics by Stuart Matthew Price and book and lyrics by Victoria Gimby.
Workshops under the direction of Matt Ryan and musical direction of Tom Brady have been taking place in London throughout July and August, however, it is unclear whether the planned full-scale production will premiere in London or New York, having attracted interest from both sides of the pond. Cast members at the workshops include West End alumni Simbi Akande, Ricardo Coke-Thomas, Sophie-Louise Dann, Jason Denton, James Gant, Cornell S. John, Abiona Omonua, Jenny Perry, Cat Simmons and Jos Slovick.
James Yeoburn, Producer at United Theatrical released the following statement: “We have been passionate about telling Rosa’s story since meeting Victoria last year. Victoria and Stuart have captured in their work the rise of one of history’s most powerful women whose life was spent campaigning for equality not only for her race but for her gender and class. We are delighted to see how beautifully this translates for the stage. This is a human story about an everyday person investing fearlessly in what she felt was right,” adds Yeoburn, “and her contribution has never been more relevant. Rosa’s story is taught to all ages throughout the education systems both in the US and here in the UK. Her message remains strong and continues to empower our leaders of tomorrow.”
This would not be the first time the African-American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s has been thematised on stage. Popular theatrical productions include The Mountaintop, All The Way and even Hairspray.